Hot on the heels of them expanding the Best Picture nominees to 10 nominees, AMPAS has instilled another change to their nominating procedures. This time, the focus is on Best Original Song. But, instead of expanding the list of nominees, we could be seeing the end of Best Original Song as a regular Oscar category.
The new rules, according to Billboard.biz and as reported by RollingStone.com, deal with the way song nominees are selected. Academy members rate each possible song on a scale from 6 to 10. In previous years, a song had to have an average score of 8.50 to be considered for nomination. Under the new rules, a song must only average 8.25.
While this might seem like an opportunity to open up the field to more songs, it’s not. The old rules stated that there must be at the very least 3 nominees per year (with a maximum of 5) regardless of the average score. Now, if no songs average 8.25, none will be nominated. Therefore, there is the very real possibility that some years there will be no Best Original Song category in the ceremony.
I’m sure no tears will be shed by the Academy over not having a Best Original Song category. That particular Oscar has been a problematic one for the Academy. It is usually the most time consuming category, being that each nominee usually gets at least a perfunctory performance on the show, adding to the length of the telecast each year. Since the length of the broadcast is an annual complaint, and having no Best Original Song nominees could cut around a half hour from the show, this could be seen as a good thing for the Academy.
Also, the Academy regularly receives criticism for the performances themselves. Most notably, from their habit of replacing the original performer of the nominated song with one they consider more ratings friendly. This is exemplified by the now legendary 1985 telecast where Ann Reinking gave her rather unique interpretation of “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” while the songs writer and performer, Phil Collins, watched on from the audience in horror. Of course, this will not be a problem if the category takes a hiatus.
Yet, in a confusing addendum, if only one song in a given year receives an average of 8.25, the the next highest rated song will also be nominated to give the air of competition. Which kind of defeats the purpose of the rule change if you ask me.